Unless you're a veteran, your sense of war, and perhaps your attitude toward it, are shaped by the images captured by those committed souls known as combat journalists.
Standing tall (in both ways) among that group was British-born Tim Hetherington, the subject of "Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington" (8 tonight, HBO), directed by his friend, author Sebastian Junger.
At 40, Hetherington was killed, along with N.C. raised photographer Chris Hondros, on April 20, 2011 by mortar fire in Libya, while covering that country's civil war.
The film is straight forward, using video and still images from Hetherington's powerful body of work to tell his story, along with interviews with his parents, his girlfriend and his colleagues, as well as Hetherington's voice. We learn the journey Hetherington took to become a combat journalist and his work philosophy. He wasn't really shooting war, but the emotions, the themes embedded in that hostile environment. It was always about the humanity.
The exploration of the fatal trip to Libya -- which includes video of the moments just before both Hondros and Hetherington were killed -- tells you much about how combat journalists work, the risks they knowingly take, the nature of war and the unrecoverable mistakes that can occur.
Hetherington's work is beautiful; it's always amazing to see how spirit can be captured in a single image, how a photographer can see the moments we can't, even if they are often right in front of us. Hetherington's work overseas reinforced our universal humanity.
In that sense, although "Which Way Is The Front Line From Here?" celebrates Hetherington, it also celebrates Hondros and other photographers who do this courageous, powerful work.